By Way of Introduction

You can lead a horse to the polls, but you can't make him vote. They would have to modify the booth to accommodate his horse shape.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Hyper Critical vs Hypocritical

I've got a confession to make: I am a hyper critical person. Some people call me (affectionately, I'm sure) a perfectionist; a micro-manager; an ass. They all fit in their own way. I expect a lot of myself - morally and ethically, a certain level of cordiality and politeness, an ever-increasing standard for my own behavior and performance in all aspects of life. I don't always live up to those expectations, but I try to be kind to myself in reviewing my day and how I was better or worse than the previous day. After all, I'm a human and thus incapable of technical perfection. This is something I find incredibly important for my personal growth and gratification. I do not expect everyone else to have the same attitude, but I am going to judge them according to the same standards by which I judge myself. Having said that, I adjust for an abundance of factors, including but not limited to: education, financial circumstances, age and upbringing. It's not a perfect system, but it's an honest attempt to maintain expectations while allowing for circumstantial differences.

HOWEVER, I believe that there is still a minimum standard we can apply to everyone - the least we can do, if you will. In a polite society, that means being... polite. That means being even-handed and fair in our assessments, even if we are keeping a higher-than-average set of expectations. Nothing wrong with raising the bar. There is an unavoidable peril we invite upon ourselves when we give one person a pass for something that we revile another for. We lose the moral high ground, the dais upon which we pontificate from is diminished with every hypocritical statement, until our words no longer carry the weight necessary to roll down an ever-decreasing incline to our audience.

That is what is happening in Washington, D.C. right now. Has been for years, of course, but recent events have hastened the leveling of that shining city on the hill, leaving no more than a shanty town - a movie set, whose walls are perilously close to collapsing in the next stiff breeze. "Rock Ridge East," one might say.

What gave it away? Was it the shrubbery?
How are we going to claw our way out of the hole being dug - nay, bulldozed, in the middle of our democracy? How do we keep a straight face while talking out of both sides of our mouths? I say "our" and "we" because as a country we have failed. Failed to elect based on merit, failed to hold our representatives' feet to the proverbial fire on issues like corporate malfeasance, gun control, the environment, equality for all, etc., etc., etc. And we have failed to stand up to the would-be demagogue currently occupying Pennsylvania Avenue's most storied residence. Our Republican representatives are in the spotlight at the moment because of their spineless pandering and appeasement tactics, but rest assured that the other side of the aisle would be in my crosshairs (poor choice of words, but I'm sticking to them) were the situation reversed.

It's absolutely maddening. Every day the already impossibly low bar is somehow lowered. What would have been unacceptable behavior for the previous president or administration is now even more laughable than it was yesterday, than it was the day before that, which was more ludicrous than we could imagine last week, which was in turn unthinkable last month, and so on. All made possible by power-mad politicians, lobbyists, special interests, and a system that rewards underhandedness, thievery, and outright lies. This has been building for years, decades even, sometimes with small steps, other times leaps. Representative democracy has taken body blow after body blow, from those sworn to uphold the Constitution. Citizen's United equaled Corporations Untied, seeming to guarantee that the more money you had at your disposal to throw at different congresspersons and issues the more say you were going to have in the laws that shape our landscape for all. Let's not fool ourselves by pretending that our government hadn't been bought and paid for long before that bewildering decision by the Supreme Court. That case simply cemented the blocks that were already in place, made them larger and more difficult to overcome.

But I digress. We're discussing civility and manners, fairness and culpability. Where are the heroes of democracy, willing to stand up to those who would taint, undermine, or outright seek to destroy the idea of America? The GOP controlled Senate broke with all form of rationale by refusing to consider candidates for a vacant Supreme Court seat because... well, it doesn't matter what excuse they used. It was bullshit. I cannot even imagine the ballyhoo should the situation have been reversed, from all corners of Conservative World. There would have been talk of revolt and armed insurrection. Come to think of it, it would have been quite like what we were fearing would happen when Trump inevitably lost the election. And then he didn't. All the talk about how the voting process was rigged, how there was no way "they" would "let" him win... forgotten in the blink of a collective eye. Now anyone questioning the system, the process, the establishment, the outcome - they were just sore losers. Hypocritical much? Yes. Yes indeed.

And now daily there are actual threats to our way of life, our beloved Constitution (much more serious threats than those to the Second Amendment) and to the rule of law. And those empowered by us to curtail those impulses, to stop those attacks, to censure or remove from office those who are responsible? They do nothing. After all, it's THEIR GUY. This piece of garbage masquerading as a President, who most of them were appalled by (or so they said) in the primary season? Now he's THEIR GUY. They own him. They're hitching their wagons to his team of horses, even though none of his horses can get security clearance. What a sham. If there is any justice in this world they'll all go down with him when he goes, because all who stand by and say nothing are culpable. All who defend the daily atrocities committed against our system of government, and law and order, and accountability, and transparency, are culpable. They should be tried as accessories to the murder of American democracy.

We can change this though. There is a simple litmus test to determine if your criticisms should remain unspoken, unwritten, untweeted: If you wouldn't mind if YOUR guy was doing it, then KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT. Simple. If it wasn't okay for Obama to reach out to North Korea, to try to engage them in talks, then it's not okay for Trump. If it wouldn't be fine for Obama to congratulate a murderous dictator on his recent election "win" then it's not okay for Trump. If it wasn't okay for Obama to golf on occasion, then it's not okay for Trump to do it one to three times a week. If it wasn't okay for Bill Clinton to have a cigar with Monica, then it's not okay for Trump to cheat on his wives - all of them - with anyone, much less a porn star or two. This isn't that hard, folks. I'll be hyper critical of your guy, but anything I go after him for I am going to hold my own guy to as well. I still find it ludicrous the type of thing that right-wing media would trash Obama for (tan suit, the "wrong" kind of mustard on his burger, etc.) but I understand that it was difficult for them to find anything of substance to go after. The petulant child that's currently sullying the Oval Office isn't treated more unfairly, it's just that he offers soooooooooooooooooooo many things to denigrate him for that it's a never-ending litany. Trump apologists must understand that one expects more negative press for Stalin than for Gandhi, though there will always be folks like Tucker Carlson who would find the latter's sanctimonious fasting something to deride.

I guess the Colluder in Chief finally stepped on a nerve over the weekend when he started trashing (Republican) Robert Mueller and the Special Counsel investigating his many misdeeds. A few previously silent officials on the red side of the aisle came out with warnings not to mess with Mueller. Jesus, guys. Too little too late. Quite probably the only reason they've decided to make a stand now is the recent pummeling they've taken at the polls, coupled with their inability to move the bar lower. Assuming Mueller is afforded the luxury of completing his investigation there will be a lot of rats trying to leave the sinking Trumptanic at the last minute. Here's hoping that aeration takes them all to Davy Jones' Locker anyway.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Russia, Russia, Russia!**

**Please read the title in a whiny Marsha-meets-Trump voice for full effect.

At this point there are so many Russia-related topics dominating the national discussion that it's difficult to keep them all sorted. The one about Russians dropping dead all over the place is one that has gotten only a little attention - mostly as a curiosity. With recent events in Britain it (Theresa) may be time to pay it more heed.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, who has formally accused Russia of the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia last week in Salisbury, wasted no time in expelling 23 Russian diplomats from Britain. She followed that up with a call for an emergency meeting of the UN to address this and other similar crimes with which the Kremlin has been involved on a worldwide basis. And make no mistake - they've been very busy cavorting about, full KGB-style, as if they're doing research on a new series of Bond films. 

In what may be considered a surprise move, Mr. Trump agreed that all the evidence supports May's assertion that Russia was behind the nerve gas attack. However, the administration has yet to offer any clues as to what our tepid response will ultimately entail.

Anyone else have something to say??
Here is a brief list of the Russian diplomats who've reached strange and untimely ends... all since the election in November 2016:

  • November 8, 2016 - Sergei Krivov, Russian Consulate Duty Commander - in charge of securing the consulate from sabotage and intrusion. He died at the Russian Consulate in New York on the morning of the election. First reports had him dying from a fall from the roof of the building. Russia would later change that story to claim Krivov suffered a heart attack. Officers at the scene reported a blunt-force head wound, while still later the New York medical examiner stated that Krivov died of internal bleeding related to a tumor. One life to live, but apparently three deaths to give.
  • December 19, 2016 - Andrei Karlov, Russian Ambassador to Turkey. He was shot by a police officer at an art exhibit in Ankara.
  • December 19, 2016 - Petr Polshikov, Russian Foreign Ministry. Shot in his apartment in Moscow. Russian newspaper Moskovskij Komsomolets said Polshikov's wife found him in their bedroom with a pillow over his head. Underneath the pillow, police found Polshikov with a head wound.
  • December 26, 2016 - Oleg Erovinkin, former head of the KGB. According to The Telegraph Christo Grozev, an expert on Russia-related security threats, believes Erovinkin is the key source to whom Mr Steele refers in the infamous Trump dossier. Mr. Erovinkin was found dead in the back of his car in Moscow. Initial reports that he had been killed were updated quickly to state that he had succumbed to (what else?) a heart attack. Sure. For more on this story follow the link.
  • January 9, 2017 - Andrei Malanin, Russian Consul in Athens, Greece. He was found dead in his apartment January 9. One whole day later the Russian Consulate issued a statement saying that "forensic experts" concluded his death to be from natural causes. Greece must have some amazingly quick labs/autopsies.
  • January 27, 2017 - Alexander Kadakin, Russian Ambassador to India. He died of heart failure following what has been reported as a "brief illness." This would qualify as perhaps the least suspicious of the deaths.
  • February 20, 2017 - Vitaly Churkin, Russian ambassador to the UN. Russia's official line is that he died of a heart attack while working at his New York office. The US State Department has instructed New York's medical examiner not to release their findings on cause of death.
  • March 21, 2017 - Nikolai Gorokhov, a lawyer for the family of Sergei Magnitsky, survived a fall from a fourth story window. Russian state media outlets report the incident as an accidental fall that Gorokhov suffered while trying to - get this - trying to move a bathtub into his apartment. He doesn't remember the incident, due to head trauma he suffered from hitting the ground at approximately the speed of four stories, but he says it was "no accident." At the time, Gorokhov was set to testify as a government witness in a massive fraud case originally brought to light by Magnitsky back in 2008.
  • This goes back to well before the time we're discussing, but it bears too much on the conversation to exclude: Sergei Magnitsky was arrested shortly after filing his complaints, spent about a year in a nasty little Russian prison, and days before the law required he be charged with a crime or released he was tied to his prison bed, tortured and beaten to death. In a surprise move, Vladimir Putin stated that Magnitsky had succumbed... to a heart attack. Come on. Try to be more original.
  • March 23, 2017 - Denis Voronenkov, former member of Russia's lower house of Parliament, expat Putin critic. He was shot several times in the head on the street outside a Kiev hotel by what the Ukrainian president characterized as a state-sponsored assassination. Surprise surprise, the Kremlin has dismissed this accusation as "absurd," even though he had reportedly received threats from the FSB (formerly the KGB). Following the shooting, the assassin was fatally wounded in a firefight with Voronenkov's bodyguard.
  • August 23, 2017 - Mirgayas Shirinsky, Russian Ambassador to Sudan. He was found in the pool at his home in Khartoum, with "evidence of an acute heart attack." While on the surface this is one of the least suspicious deaths of the lot, the "heart attack" thing raises my eyebrow more than a little.
To tackle the long and sordid list of suspicious deaths of Putin foes would take much more space than I've got time to fill here, but in light of the most recent poisoning in Salisbury I'll leave you with a teaser and a link to a couple of BuzzFeed investigative pieces on the subject.

November 5, 2015, Mikhail Lesin, a former Putin adviser and Russian state media executive was found bludgeoned to death in his Washington, D.C. hotel room. The death occurred the night before a planned meeting with DOJ officials to discuss the workings of RT, the Kremlin mouthpiece that Lesin founded. The investigation concluded that Lesin had died after getting drunk and falling, apparently a number of times, in his hotel room. Some solid reporting from BuzzFeed News goes into more depth on this subject. “Lesin was beaten to death" stated an FBI agent. "I would implore you to say as much. There seems to be an effort here to cover up that fact for reasons I can't get into. What I can tell you is that there isn’t a single person inside the bureau who believes this guy got drunk, fell down, and died. Everyone thinks he was whacked and that Putin or the Kremlin were behind it.”

The fourteen suspicious deaths on British soil that BuzzFeed detailed in this article are now under further investigation by the UK on the orders of Home Secretary Amber Rudd. She'll get back to us on what the findings detail, but circumstantially I'd say there's something rotten in Moscow.

Taken as a whole these deaths read like a systematic extermination of anyone unfortunate enough to have crossed Putin or his cronies. Assassination of expats or foreign nationals on sovereign soil is an act of war - one which all NATO allies would be obliged to enter into should evidence be presented that Russia was complicit in the commission thereof. Should that occur the question becomes "Does the West have the backbone to defend itself?"

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Life Comes at You Fast

Life comes at you fast. Just ask (former) Secretary of State Rex "The Environment" Tillerson, who was the latest in the Drumpfster Fire Administration to be shit-canned, and the highest ranking so far. It will be up to Robert Mueller to fire anyone higher up the chain... **cough cough, Trump, cough cough.

I give up.

Nothing to see here.

Trump didn't even have the decency (read: Balls) to fire Tillerson to his face. Rather, Rexie was alerted to his departure by Trump's tweet, was "unaware of the reason" and had planned to stick around in the State Department for as long as Mueller lets Trump stay. I'm sure this decision's got nothing to do with:
  • Tillerson calling Trump a "fucking moron." Not to be outdone, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster referred to his boss as an "idiot," and a "dope" with the intelligence of a "kindergartener."
  • Tillerson advocating for talks with North Korea (ironically, now that such talks are tentatively scheduled, Lil Hands has determined that Rex has to go)
  • Tillerson publicly disagreeing with Trump on; the decision to leave the Paris Climate Accord, the Iran nuclear agreement, the Venezuela sanctions, the Charlottesville rally, the Afghan war strategy, the Qatar issue, etc.
  • Tillerson expressing shock (and accepting the intel that the Kremlin is responsible) over the recent poisoning of a former Russian spy in the UK.
  • Tillerson calling out Russian interference in US elections and warning that they will continue to meddle.
  • Tillerson calling out Russia for their war crimes in Syria.

The list goes on this way. In retrospect it's shocking that Trump hadn't fired him before. I'd say that I was surprised that Rex didn't resign earlier, but he's one of the few Trump appointees who seemed to take his job seriously, even if he was grossly under-qualified. I think he knows how important it is to have someone with brains and a level head in the position of chief diplomat for the United States. Too bad that Trump handicapped him from the beginning - refusing to fill important positions in the State Department with anyone who had disagreed with him or been critical of him in the run-up to the election. I say this with the caveat that I was completely opposed to his original appointment, there in the early days of this "Administration" when it wasn't yet clear exactly the kind of shit-show amateur hour we were about to be knee deep in. Once the situation became clear anyone with any level of competency at all became vitally important to maintaining some semblance of effective governing from the Executive Branch. Mind you, it's been difficult to find anyone with the proper resume to fill all the vacant positions who also fits the "never said a critical thing about Boss Baby" mold.

It's worth pointing out that Tillerson's rather unambiguously forceful remarks about Russian involvement in the (latest) UK poisoning came just hours before Trump "decided" to replace him as Secretary of State. I use quotation marks because it seems more like Putin's decision than Trump's. I assume that Komrade Putin made his displeasure with Rex known to Donny sometime over the course of the evening, strongly urging his Apprentice to show Tillerson the door. Since the NRA has just shown us all how much backbone Trump has (none) it should come as no surprise that Vlad's orders were implemented so quickly.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Charmed Life

I was just reading an(other) article about a school shooting, this one at Florida State University. In this case only the shooter was killed, at least as of this writing. The perpetrator had been posting about things religious and also about his theory that the government is reading our minds, etc., which begs the question: If the government is reading your mind, don't you suppose they'd know you were about to go full Postal and shoot up a library? (Assuming we're still allowed to reference "going postal.")

But here's what really stuck with me:

According to a USA Today piece on the shooting, Jason Derfuss, assumed to be a student at FSU, was near the shooter when he opened fire, not realizing until later that one of his books took a bullet for him.

 "He was about five feet from me, but he hit my books. I assumed I wasn't a target, I assumed I was fine. The truth is I was almost killed tonight and God intervened."

Or maybe it was Tolstoy's wordiness.

We've all heard sports figures thanking their deity when they perform well, and we kind of shrug it off, even if we aren't religiously inclined. It seems harmless enough, even funny. As if a god that supposedly lets us live our lives unhindered while exercising our him-given free will would step in now and again to help some dipshit throw a ball, catch a ball, hit a ball, etc., but not to stop millions from starving, dying of disease, or being murdered.

But then somebody makes the kind of statement that Mr. Derfuss made and people kind of nod. "I can see that. God must have special plans for this kid. It just wasn't his time."

No whammies, no whammies, no whammies...
Bullshit. I call shenanigans. I understand the feeling of a charmed existence, as I too have had near misses in my life. There was the car accident, there were the two times I had guns pointed at me, there was the time at the mall when someone started shooting only twenty or so feet from me, bullets going all over the damn place. I felt lucky, charmed, maybe even blessed. But I grew out of those feelings, as the problems with such sentiments are many: Please go tell the parents of the Sandy Hook victims that God just didn't see the benefit in intervening on behalf of their children. Tell the spouses and children of all the military casualties that God was too busy honing a child-beating Adrian Petersen's running skills to stop the slaughter.

You see the problem with being "blessed?" The law of opposites comes into play. If you're blessed, then necessarily all the people who didn't survive the (fill-in-the-blank) shooting were damned. "That was their purpose here on Earth, to die a dog's death at the hands of some crazed asshole." Doesn't sound very nice when you put it that way. How about: "Your child/spouse/parent simply wasn't that important." Still kind of nasty. "God's plan involved them only peripherally. Hope you hadn't gotten too attached."

None of those are really any good. So maybe we should just fall back on the old stand-by:

"Your puny human mind couldn't possibly fathom the vast greatness of His plan."

Right. Got it.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Heiroglyphics LOL :)

So, usually I do my most interesting thinking when my mind is not working quite right. I've no doubt that this post will elucidate that concept.

We now use acronyms for a lot of our communication. The most recent variety came into popular usage due to that glorious invention that keeps me from having to verbally communicate with people if I don't want to: the text message. Let me start by saying that I am an English snob to a certain degree, and so one might think that I would abhor these recent bastardizations of my beloved language. Not so. In fact, I welcome them with open arms and open mind - one figuratively and one literally. Now, I'm not saying that these shortcuts are good for classic styles of literature. It's much too early to tell what the long-term effects of all this lol-ing will be for the traditional written word. Rather I am excited about it because I believe it represents a huge leap forward for the human race in terms of evolution. Or at least it is a harbinger of that impending leap.

Think about it: we can now compress entire thoughts into a simple 3-5 letter acronym, and almost everyone can actually decipher what the hell we're saying. Better yet, we can do much the same thing with emoticons - the modern heiroglyph. That is just the type of thing that has never been possible on this planet, at least not to our knowledge. The omnipresence of the internet and social media, and to a lesser extent, reality television, have made this widespread alteration in our means of communicating possible. We make the changes and society either adopts them or rejects them on an almost daily basis, until we have at our disposal an entirely new lexicon, and one that is more efficient than the one that took us thousands of years to arrive at. Mind you, there are great limitations to this "language." It imparts nearly no subtlety or emotion, and it is as yet too broad to be used for anything more than phrases or simple sayings. "You only live once." "In my opinion." "By the way." "Rolling on the floor laughing." Really? I doubt it. This is why I am not worried about the future of the language itself. And yet...

So many minds all converging on the same point is grounds for giant breakthroughs in many areas. The think tank now consists of billions of minds instead of a handful. Yes, there are plenty of morons contaminating the pool, but they've always been there, and they're easy to identify and quarantine, like the Baby Ruth bar in Caddyshack. Twitter managed to help start a regional revolution in the Middle East a couple of years back. That's a big deal. Some video gamers helped decode an HIV protein that had stymied researchers for 15 years... in 3 weeks. I could cite more examples, but I'm not here to offer a treatise on the effectiveness of modern technology in solving age-old problems. Maybe I'll do that in an upcoming post.

The caveat is that right now society is in danger of becoming a parody of itself, as its main source of knowledge and learning is the garbage that society itself cranks out. I see no value in learning that your famous   fill in the blank   is on the menu this evening, or that you broke this morning's fast yet again with your hubby, who it is your pleasure to announce that you love dearly. But once we get all that stuff sorted out and we figure out how to separate the wheat from the chaff... look out! Because we are capable of great things. Really great things. Things we have heretofore not even bothered thinking about due to their seeming impossibility.

Thanks for indulging me. (insert favorite sign-off acronym here) and/or (cliché post-ending zinger to bring the whole thing together in one tidy little package)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Empathy, Anger, Sorrow, Compassion and Love.

December 14, 2012:  Expounded upon in slipshod fashion.

I, like millions of other parents out there this weekend, am at a loss. In a pleasant little town in Connecticut there are twenty homes that three days three days ago were just like mine - filled with loving families and Christmas trees and carefully wrapped gifts under those trees. Homes bustling with the normal chatter of life, of the coming holidays, and of young children doing the things that young children do: wondering where the Elf on the Shelf might be hiding today or what might be in the ginormous box that appeared under the tree last night with their beautiful little name written on the tag. The enormity of the loss that those families are enduring right now cannot be imagined by anyone who has not personally experienced it - of that I have no doubt. But if the paralyzing sadness I'm feeling, invoked by the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School is any indication, I don’t know how those people are managing.

How does one recover from such horror? How do you trudge on when your soul has been ripped from you so violently and senselessly? People talk about motive. That is a joke. There can be nothing that passes as a motive for slaughtering completely innocent children. I do not want to forget the teachers and faculty that died Friday either. Their stories carry the same weight and their lives were cut short in the same brutal fashion. They died trying to protect the children of others, and they should be honored and memorialized as such. And the last cowardly act of the deranged piece of shit murdering bastard fuck was to take his own life, so that not one of those parents or spouses of the victims will ever have any real answers, never get to confront the animal that stole so much from their loved ones and from them. So how do you go on? How do you deal with the fact that you will never ever get to hold your child’s hand again, never get to kiss them goodnight, never get to hear them laugh, never get to see them grow up? No prom, no teaching them how to drive or how to cook, no soccer games, no… anything. What just yesterday was a defining feature of your life is gone. The person that occupied the vast majority of your time and your attention? Gone. What do you do with those presents under the tree? How can you ever enjoy anything ever again? I start to cry every time I imagine it, and my imagination isn’t that good. The events of Friday will fade for me over time, the acuteness of the pain dulled by years, but the casualties of that day are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Those directly effected by these events? Their lives will never be the same. That town will never be the same.

All of these thoughts keep leading me back to outrage at the shooter, followed shortly by thoughts of vengeance and retribution. I know it isn’t politically correct, but I really don’t care. Those weren’t even my children, but as a parent... we spend so much of our time nurturing our offspring, getting up at all hours to comfort them, reading them book after book, walking around and around the house half bent over, holding little itty bitty hands, delighting in every achievement, no matter how minor it is. “She almost fell over, but then she caught her balance!” or “She said ‘squirrel!’ I mean, it sounded like ‘skerl’ but she definitely said it.” We watch them play and think about how fast they seem to be growing up. And then they look over their shoulder and see us watching, and they smile the kind of real and pure smile that only a child can smile, and they feel safe and secure, because they know we’re there for them and we’re going to protect them and keep them from harm.

And then we can’t. Because harm is everywhere, and a life locked in your house is not really a life. But when something happens to your baby, you always end up second-guessing everything you did that led to the harm. Some tool I attended high school with posted some asinine comment that suggested the Sandy Hook teachers were somehow culpable because they weren’t toting firearms. I un-friended him. Blame the teachers. Blame the principal. It is no one’s fault but the filth that shot those people. I will not name him. He should be anonymous, and should forever remain so. I saw a quote from Morgan Freeman that basically says as much. My own father has preached the same thing for years for those who would murder someone else to gain any kind of notoriety. No assassin shall ever have his or her name recorded or reported. They will be cremated and their ashes scattered to the four winds, or stirred into concrete for use in sewage tunnels. It is the victims and their families whose names should be remembered.

Those people need all of our empathy, all of our compassion, and all of our love. They don’t need someone labeling the asshole that carried out this attack “evil” or “insane.” Those are cheap and easy outs, and I’m not feeling any charity or compassion for that guy. I noticed that some in the religious quadrant have taken this opportunity to make snarky comments regarding how these things happen due to the lack of prayer in schools. As if their God would somehow be limited by man’s laws. As if He/She/It would turn his back on innocent children because of a beef with legislators. That’s real spiritual and healing. Nice work.

I’m not what you might call a “believer.” I do not believe in the mythical Greek, Roman, or Norse gods. Nor do I believe in the Hebrew god or the Christian god (sorry Mom and Dad) or the Muslim god. I also don't believe in Santa Claus, but I do believe in the spirit of this season of giving, and in the same way I do believe in humanity, and in its incredible capacity for love.

May we all strive to be a little bit better, shine a little bit brighter, love with a little more abandon, and hug our loved ones a little bit tighter – for all those who cannot.

In Memoriam:

Daniel Barden, 7
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Madeleine F. Hsu, 6
Catherine V. Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Emilie Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Avielle Richman, 6
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison N. Wyatt, 6
Mary Sherlach, 56
Victoria Soto, 27
Anne Marie Murphy, 52
Lauren Rousseau, 30
Dawn Hochsprung, 47
Rachel Davino, 29